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Three Things You Should Check Before Buying Griffin Industrial Realty, Inc. (NASDAQ:GRIF) For Its Dividend

Simply Wall St

Dividend paying stocks like Griffin Industrial Realty, Inc. (NASDAQ:GRIF) tend to be popular with investors, and for good reason - some research suggests a significant amount of all stock market returns come from reinvested dividends. Yet sometimes, investors buy a stock for its dividend and lose money because the share price falls by more than they earned in dividend payments.

While Griffin Industrial Realty's 1.2% dividend yield is not the highest, we think its lengthy payment history is quite interesting. Before you buy any stock for its dividend however, you should always remember Warren Buffett's two rules: 1) Don't lose money, and 2) Remember rule #1. We'll run through some checks below to help with this.

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NasdaqGM:GRIF Historical Dividend Yield, May 16th 2019

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Payout ratios

Dividends are typically paid from company earnings. If a company pays more in dividends than it earned, then the dividend might become unsustainable - hardly an ideal situation. Comparing dividend payments to a company's net profit after tax is a simple way of reality-checking whether a dividend is sustainable. Although it reported a loss over the past 12 months, Griffin Industrial Realty currently pays a dividend. When a company recently reported a loss, we should investigate if its cash flows covered the dividend.

As a loss-making company, we can also measure Griffin Industrial Realty's dividend payments against its levered free cash flow, to see if enough cash was generated to cover the dividend. Griffin Industrial Realty's cash payout ratio last year was 23%, which is quite low and suggests that the dividend was thoroughly covered by cash flow.


Is Griffin Industrial Realty's Balance Sheet Risky?

Given Griffin Industrial Realty is paying a dividend but reported a loss over the past year, we need to check its balance sheet for signs of financial distress. A rough way to check this is with these two simple ratios: a) net debt divided by EBITDA (earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation), and b) net interest cover. Net debt to EBITDA is a measure of a company's total debt. Net interest cover measures the ability to meet interest payments on debt. Essentially we check that a) a company does not have too much debt, and b) that it can afford to pay the interest. Griffin Industrial Realty has net debt of 8.71 times its earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) which implies meaningful risk if interest rates rise of earnings decline.

Net interest cover can be calculated by dividing earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) by the company's net interest expense. With EBIT of less than 1 times its interest expense, Griffin Industrial Realty's financial situation is potentially quite concerning. Readers should investigate whether it might be at risk of breaching the minimum requirements on its loans. Low interest cover and high debt can create problems right when the investor least needs them. We're generally reluctant to rely on the dividend of companies with these traits.

Remember, you can always get a snapshot of Griffin Industrial Realty's latest financial position, by checking our visualisation of its financial health.

Dividend Volatility

One of the major risks of relying on dividend income, is the potential for a company to struggle financially and cut its dividend. Not only is your income cut, but the value of your investment declines as well - nasty. Griffin Industrial Realty has been paying dividends for a long time, but for the purpose of this analysis, we only examine the past 10 years of payments. During this period the dividend has been stable, which could imply the business could have relatively consistent earnings power. During the past ten-year period, the first annual payment was US$0.40 in 2009, compared to US$0.45 last year. This works out to be a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of approximately 1.2% a year over that time.


Dividend Growth Potential

Dividend payments have been consistent over the past few years, but we should always check if earnings per share (EPS) are growing, as this will help maintain the purchasing power of the dividend. It's good to see Griffin Industrial Realty has been growing its earnings per share at 26% a year over the past 5 years.

Conclusion

Dividend investors should always want to know if a) a company's dividends are affordable, b) if there is a track record of consistent payments, and c) if the dividend is capable of growing. We're a bit uncomfortable with its high payout ratio, although we note cashflow was stronger than income. We like that it has been delivering solid earnings growth and relatively consistent dividend payments. Overall we think Griffin Industrial Realty is an interesting dividend stock, although it could be better.

Are management backing themselves to deliver performance? Check their shareholdings in Griffin Industrial Realty in our latest insider ownership analysis.

We have also put together a list of global stocks with a market capitalisation above $1bn and yielding more 3%.

We aim to bring you long-term focused research analysis driven by fundamental data. Note that our analysis may not factor in the latest price-sensitive company announcements or qualitative material.

If you spot an error that warrants correction, please contact the editor at editorial-team@simplywallst.com. This article by Simply Wall St is general in nature. It does not constitute a recommendation to buy or sell any stock, and does not take account of your objectives, or your financial situation. Simply Wall St has no position in the stocks mentioned. Thank you for reading.